See Ye, See Ye – Invisible Disabilities Week

Why, it is so invisible I didn’t know it was this week!
Thanks to fellow blogger, the invincible Invisibly Me, I found out.

I’m so taken unawares I’m just getting up on my Soapbox to have a good old Rant.

I think I qualify as having an invisible disability: autism, severe sensory difficulties, bipolar, personality disorder, dyspraxia (OK so I use a stick, but it’s a colourful, fancy one and most people just treat it like it’s an accessory). I think you probably get the picture. I cannot bear people near me, sudden noise, and so on. But I like going out, to the theatre, for a coffee or a meal, visiting an ancient church or historic property. I love capturing memories of these places with my camera.

We are fortunate to have quite a few theatres that are fairly near. Most are OK with regard to lifts (elevators) and loos (bathrooms). But I was getting increasingly incensed by the queueing for loos at on in particular. I couldn’t cope with the ‘Ladies’ on the ground floor as it was usually packed (and very noisy) pre-show and during the interval so I would head for the ‘disabled’ loo. To put you in the picture I am a Blue Badge holder and have a RADAR key. For those outside the UK who may not know, the Blue Badge card allows me to park in bays for the disabled as well as affording other parking concessions for the disabled, and the RADAR key is used for unlocking the door to toilets for the disabled.

Every time I went to these designated toilets there would be women waiting and moaning about the queues for the Ladies and I knew they were only queueing here to circumvent the system. And yet they would stay despite others arriving in wheelchairs, some with carers. Sometimes they’d give a grin as they came out; that made me even more furious. So I wrote to Customer Services. Their response: ‘Some people have hidden disabilities. We can’t question people.’ I’d actually suggested better signage might make people think twice.

And so, when I went to a show yesterday I went up in the lift to use the loos on the second floor. I shouldn’t have to change behaviour, but I just find it easier.

 ghosts of our pasts keep pace –
a mere smokescreen life behind;
barbs of other’s misconceptions
catching on the webs of the mind
layer upon layer of plastic sighs
memories clouded in palatable lies

And so my rant is this: I am tired of making changes to make it easier for non-disabled people abusing the facilities provided for the less able.
I am tired of pretending I’m OK so that others can feel more comfortable.

I am tired of being Invisible.